Fantasy stories often come in a series, and that can be a bit overwhelming for some readers, especially with series that have been going forever and sprawl all over the place. On the other side of the spectrum, standalone fantasy can feel too short. Even seasoned authors struggle with fitting both a rollicking plot and worldbuilding into one book.
Thankfully, there is a happy medium for readers who want a broader plot line but also may not want to dedicate themselves — either money- or time-wise — to thousands of pages of plot. I’ve mentioned before that I prefer books that have “volume 1” printed on the spine, but lately I’ve been feeling scatterbrained both in my regular life and my book choices. There’s so much to read out there, and the world is so strange these days that it’s tough to focus on anything for hours upon hours. My friends, I am here to suggest the duology, or what those in the British Regency period might have called a “double-decker.” Fantasy duologies are usually two full-length novels set in the same world. They may follow the same protagonist(s) or not, but one thing is certain: they neatly solve the issue of “how much time do I have to invest in this world.” Here are eight new worlds to explore over the course of 16 books.
The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin
Ehiru is a Gatherer of dreams in the ancient city-state of Gujaareh. He Gathers the magic of the sleeping mind, which is then used to heal, to soothe, and — when necessary — to kill to keep the peace in his city. But there is a conspiracy brewing in his priesthood, and he must now question everything he knows in order to do what is right.
Book 2: The Shadowed Sun
Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi
In the city of Kos, sin can be pulled by magic from a person’s mind, creating a sin-beast that is then eaten by sin-eaters. Most sin-eaters go mad quickly, but Taj has not — yet. When he is called upon to eat the sin of a Royal, he uncovers a plot to destroy the city and is thrown into the heart of intrigue that he can only hope to escape with his life.
Book 2: Crown of Thunder
This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron
Briseis has the power to grow plants with a single touch. When her grandmother leaves her family a dilapidated and frankly mysterious estate in upstate New York, they relocate from Brooklyn. What they encounter is a centuries-old curse, the deadliest plant on earth, and a nefarious group determined to force Bri to create an elixir of immortality.
Book 2: This Wicked Fate
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
A classic by one of the best fantasy authors, full stop.
Lauren Olamina lives in an enclave with her family in the post-apocalyptic Los Angeles of 2025 (eep). She suffers from hyperempathy, making her extremely sensitive to the pain of those around her. When a fire destroys both her compound and her family, Lauren is forced out into the world on her own.
Book 2: Parable of the Talents
This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city — one whose violence has begun to breed actual monsters. Thrown together by events, they must decide whether to be friends or enemies, heroes or villains… and whether to save their city or let it eat itself.
Book 2: Our Dark Duet
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
Alice has spent her life on the road with her mother, the two of them avoiding the cult-like fans of her grandmother’s book of dark fairy tales. But when Alice’s mother is stolen by a figure who claims to be from The Hinterland, the book’s setting, she must work with a Hinterland superfan to figure out where everything went wrong.
Book 2: The Night Country
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
In 1926 Shanghai, Roma Montagov and Juliette Cai are the heirs to the White Flowers and the Scarlet Gang, respectively. They were together once, but are again enemies now that Juliette has returned home from the United States. But when gangsters across the city begin clawing their throats out, some kind of peace must be brokered to save the city.
Yes, this is a Romeo + Juliet retelling, and it’s great. Also, that cover?!?
Book 2: Our Violent Ends
Fellow Rioter Kelly also penned a piece with some delectable YA fantasy duologies back in February, so if you’re looking for even more inspiration, head over there!